Why road tripping New Zealand is so rewarding

New Zealand is the perfect country in which to enjoy a road trip. Its compact size and density of attractions means your next stop is never more than a couple hours away. Driving your own vehicle is a great way to explore every nook and cranny of New Zealand’s natural beauty.

Complete freedom

Without a vehicle, you’re stuck on the beaten path. Half the fun of a road trip in New Zealand is experiencing the remoteness of the country and discovering breathtaking secret spots. You can turn down a side road that looks interesting and stop at a viewpoint in the middle of nowhere. You can get temporarily lost and find a secluded beach, deserted except for some sea lions. Just make sure your camera is charged as you’ll use it like never before.

Ease of travel

With a population of about 4.5 million, it’s not surprising that public transport options can be limited outside urban areas. If you have your own wheels, you’ll never have to spend time figuring out how to get from point A to point B via multiple bus connections.

South Island

Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook

You’ll never forget your first glimpse of the pure blue waters of Lake Pukaki and majestic Mount Cook (the highest peak in New Zealand) rising above it. If you want to stretch your legs, the Hooker Track is one of the best day hikes in New Zealand. Cross swinging bridges and pass glacier lakes, all the while being treated to incredible views of Mount Cook.


The adventure capital of the South Island, Queenstown, is suited to almost any kind of active exploration. Those looking for an adrenaline rush can go bungee jumping, jet boating, zip lining, paragliding or river rafting. For something more sedate, take the Skyline Gondola up a mountain to take in the view over Queenstown or hop on a lake cruise.

Milford Sound

Rudyard Kipling described Milford Sound as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. The best way to explore the Sound’s icy blue water is on a boat cruise, either on a day trip or overnight. You can also hire kayaks or take a sightseeing flight for an aerial view.

North Island


No guide to New Zealand would be complete without mentioning Hobbiton, an important filming location for The Lord of the Rings films. There are daily tours available to visit the set and have your own Middle Earth adventure, wandering around the hobbit holes.


The city was destroyed in 1931 by an earthquake and completely rebuilt, resulting in a stunning Art Deco city. Walking around the city centre feels like stepping back in time. Try to time your visit to coincide with the annual Art Deco weekend in February, when the town fills with vintage cars, fashion, and music.


Get acquainted with New Zealand’s geothermal attractions in Rotorua. There are heaps of natural hot springs, spewing geysers and boiling mud pools. Take a hike through the pristine forests surrounding the town, then relax with a soak in a natural hot tub.

RACQ members can save on car hire and motorhome hire when travelling in Australia and overseas.